Friday, 20 April, 2018

Trump puts federal libel law on 2018 agenda, escalating complaints against media

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Theresa Hayes | 13 January, 2018, 06:54

It was just last week when excerpts of the book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" were released, as author Michael Wolff documented the Trump campaign and the better part of the president's first year in office. "If someone says something that is totally false and knowingly false, that the person who has been abused, defamed, libeled, will have meaningful recourse". The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that public figures - like the president - must clear a high hurdle in order to prove defamation.

"The libel laws are very weak in this country", he told reporters.

During his first Cabinet meeting of 2018, Trump called current libel laws "a sham and a disgrace", saying they don't "represent American values or American fairness". "If they were strong, it would be very helpful. You wouldn't have things like that happen where you can say whatever comes to your head".

Before the press was ushered out of the cabinet meeting, Trump said, "We want fairness".

Wolff has questioned Trump's mental fitness to serve as president of the United States and ostensibly revealed "facts" about him based on more than 200 interviews with Trump and his inner circle.

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Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, filed a defamation lawsuit against BuzzFeed News for publishing, last January, a salacious and mostly unsubstantiated intelligence dossier that purported to describe how Russian Federation had aided the Trump campaign.

She saved her real ire, however, for Republican leaders who have been sitting on their hands while Trump continues to alienate and anger black voters. It held that a publisher would be guilty of defamation or libel if he/she knew the challenged statement was false or acted with reckless disregard of its truth or falsity.

The White House had to then clarify Trump's comments by emphasizing that the president still opposes legislation that protects the 800,000 Dreamers now living in the United States if it doesn't include border security measures, such as funding for the border wall.

"We consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials", Justice William Brennan wrote in his opinion.